Hana Hertsman's Blog

Posts tagged “digitaf

A Bond of Hearts: A heartwarming encounter with Jews and Israelis in New York

Posted on May 7, 2015

With Tsipi and Zigi Ben-Haim and Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York

With Tsipi and Zigi Ben-Haim and Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York

The hardships, dangers, and fears involved in living in Israel often make us feel isolated. In recent years, it seems, this feeling of isolation is getting even more intense.

During an exciting encounter held recently in the United States, I was happy to realize an entire community is thinking of us from across the sea, feeling connected to us, empathizing, showing interest, and even willing to pull their weight.

As part of our efforts to bring about an innovative educational initiative in Holon – the Digital Kindergarten Digitaf – I had the privilege to attend an especially heartwarming event and share the latest news of Israel and Holon with members of the New York Jewish community. I felt that I succeeded in laying the foundations for a new perception, a new attitude that places the younger generation in the center, seeking to provide the younger generation with targeted tools and skills required for personal development and success, while creating a powerful values-driven community.

Tsipi and Zigi Ben-Haim, former Israelis, have been living in the United States for many years. Like many of their compatriots, they immigrated to the United States in order to pursue their professional career. Zigi Ben-Haim, a valued artist, has won multiple prestigious awards for his art. His pieces are displayed in prominent museums such as: the Guggenheim and Brooklyn Museum in New York; the Israel Museum and Tel Aviv Museum. The couple had been so kind as to volunteer their house for a special Holon-oriented gala, in the presence of tens of participants from the Jewish and Israeli community in New York.

In addition to Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, the event attracted a large number of visitors, who expressed a great interest in Israel, who were eager to hear about every piece of information related to contemporary life in Israeli society, and were willing to delve into issues such as Israeli education, culture, zeitgeist, and perceptions among the younger generation in Israel. I was surprised by the young age of many of the visitors, who shared information about themselves and wanted to better understand the meaning of Holon as the Children’s City.

Those young visitors were thrilled to hear about Holon’s unique initiatives, and about our efforts to foster the younger Israeli generation through exposure to culture, which equips them with knowledge and skills that will eventually make them into knowledgeable, curious, moral, creative, and productive citizens. I told them about the special activities held in Design Museum Holon, about the unique workshops for the entire family, about the synergy between our formal educational system and our cultural institutions, and more. Appreciation, fascination, and curiosity permeated the discussion; the participants expressed their willingness to tighten the bond with Holon and Israel, as well as invest in mutual learning.

Acknowledging the importance of sustainability for the sake of leaving a clean and healthy environment for the next generations, they were naturally impressed with the ideas I laid before them: investing in children, instilling values of tolerance, social engagement, and community involvement.

Without doubt, this evening was nothing short of exhilarating. I hereby wish to thank our hosts and all who participated in the event and helped organize it.

Digitaf – An Innovative Kindergarten in an Advanced Digital Space

Posted on March 16, 2015

I often mention that my mother was a kindergarten teacher, and that early childhood education had been integrally woven into my childhood upbringing. Despite having chosen a different career path as an adult, I have always been devoted to cultivating the young generation, constantly striving to realize the vision of Holon as The Children’s City.

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In recent years, I have been feeling the need to broaden my knowledge and specialize in the area of early childhood education, and I have recently completed my Master’s degree in this field. I have undertaken to adapt the pedagogical principles to the vast technological possibilities that are today available for all, without allowing the means to obscure the end. I always keep in mind the main goal: recruiting modern technology for the benefit of cultivating a curious, creative, and innovative generation, while not neglecting to focus on social skills such as cooperation, acceptance of others, and empathy – which are equally important.

Kindergarten is one of the earliest pedagogical institutions children encounter in their lives, and its influence on their future development is paramount. Some claim that kindergartens should preserve the traditional educational processes, which are based on social and sensual experiences, and should avoid the penetration of innovative technologies which, one way or the other, overwhelm children from the day they are born. I believe that meaningful learning cannot be disconnected from modern society, from the world children live in and from the experiences they encounter along the way. My aim is to find the golden mean that appropriately combines technology with the aforementioned traditional educational processes.

These days, we are planning the establishment of Digitaf – a digital kindergarten. Digitaf will constitute an experimental innovative educational approach, which perceives children as both consumers and producers. Digitaf’s pedagogical learning environment will be based on pedagogical approaches of early childhood education, while naturally incorporating innovative modern technological devices into different areas, such as art, design, music, and sciences. Technology will serve as the means to achieve troubleshooting, creativity, team work, and additional skills that are required in the Information Age. Digitaf will include didactic interactive tables, a recording studio, 3D printers, and more. This way, children will be able to experiment with using 3D printers in order to design and produce toys, parts, and tools – all by themselves.

Digitaf is intended as a compulsory nursery school; it will include learning centers in the following fields: literacy, arts, mathematical thinking, crafts, theater, audio centers, nutrition, and sociodramatic play centers which are available in all kindergartens. The unique and innovative nature of the kindergarten finds expression in the complete integration of digital technology across all kindergarten activities, while preserving the spirit of the traditional kindergarten.

Digitaf will maintain a relationship between the inside and outside structure: the design of the courtyard will be based on the principles that are maintained within the interior structure. The aim is to establish an environment which encourages a high level of physical activity. For example, a unique adventure park will offer challenging activity spaces, a cave to crawl into, a hill to climb, etc. Children will also experiment with using a variety of building materials.

Digitaf will be located at the Jesse Cohen Quarter, as part of a technological community center, and will collaborate with digital centers adjacent to it: the Israeli Center for Digital Art and the digital manufacturing laboratory (FabLab).

The construction of the kindergarten will take place in a hall sized 200 square meters: 170 square meters are intended for the kindergarten area, while 30 square meters are intended for a joint center which will collaborate with the digital manufacturing laboratory (Fab Lab). The joint space will serve kindergarten children by day, and host afternoon activities for Jesse Cohen residents and for Holon residents in general. The modern architectural structure of the kindergarten will reflect the combination of early childhood education and technological innovation.

These days, we are concentrating our efforts on raising funds and resources for realizing the notion of Digitaf and for equipping it with the necessary technology. Hopefully, our efforts will bear fruit, and Digitaf will serve as a model pedagogical framework that demonstrates a harmonic adaptation of the educational system to the technological advancements of the 21st century, which have become inseparable from our daily lives.